Volume 18 Issue 1
Jacobs wounded thigh happened during his struggle to adjust. To face life as it was, as it had unfolded. To face his own decisions, his own ego. To adjust to life, adjust to his brother. The God-inflicted bruise was not a mark of defeat but the mark of an extreme encounter that resulted in Jacob finally attaining a right attitude.
Philosophers have noted that the elements of life as it pertains to the visible environment are things and people. Jacobs confrontation with destiny hinged on the resolutions he worked out concerning these two elements of the visible world. It was first a resolution with his brother Esau, of whom he was greatly afraid. Secondly, his destiny was predicated upon a resolution of his things: his fortune, servants, oxen, and flocks, which in essence amounted to his future success or failure.
His struggle however did not end with the resolution of elements in the visible environment. Jacob also was forced into a resolution with the invisible environment: the environment of the eternal. While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).
It was impossible for Jacob to resolve the elements of the visible world without also dealing with the eternal world. There was an invisible, eternal presence with Jacob. God met him, dealt with him, pushed him, and sent angels to him (Genesis 32:1-24). Gods presence with Jacob is profound in that God did not permit Jacob to ignore his relationships with persons or things. These elements had to be worked out. This fact was a wake up call for Jacob as he acknowledges, O Godwhich saidst unto me, return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee.
Godliness is established in both worlds: the visible and the invisible. God is very interested in how we deal with people and things as well as prayer and sacrifice (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). We must get things right. We must get our relationships with people right.
One could hardly deny that Jacob as Clarke describes, experienced a divine intervention. God did not remove him from the reality of his problems, fears, and concerns by permitting him to escape the visible environment of people and things. He did not bless him, or change his name until he had achieved peace with his reality. He did allow him to continue his self-serving, ascetic ways. Jacobs personal wealth was not Gods objective in blessing him. Rather, God needed Jacob to build a family, a nation, and a church. This could not have been done with a miser, or a power seeker. A saver hopes to save, become wealthy, and then spend. However, for some saving becomes an end in itself. The discipline becomes an ugly, greedy obsession. Some who rise to power with noble intentions to do good things are corrupted by the love of influence and develop an inflated ego that turns good men into sullied disappointments.
The world is comprised of nothing more than people and things and our relationships with these two elements must be in proper alignment before we will ever be able to reach our full potential. This was all part of Jacobs struggle, but God walked him through it. It was not a night of avoidance or escape, but a lonely night of travail. To his credit, he clutches an angel so tight that the heavenly being is forced to wound him in order to disengage. In a collision of the visible and invisible realities Jacob becomes Israel, the prince, and a vital link in Gods plan: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
God is forever placing us in new circumstances, new worlds, and new situations. He moves us, sends us out, and brings us in. The world is dying, yet it is very much alive. Many backslide, but thousand more are being saved. And an unseen hand holds the keys to the future.
The conflict is the competition between our interpretation of the visible reality and our potential in Christ. We have our knowledge of anointing, talent, sense of position, and opportunity. And these things can be measured to some degree. For example, unwisely we may make comparisons among ourselves (2 Corinthians 10:12). However, our real potential is know only by God and it seems clear that he expects us to come to grips with and balance out the persons and things in our visible environment to achieve the fullness of what he has for us.
If we wrestle through the night, and achieve this resolution in a Godly, humble, and obedient manner much will be accomplished. Perhaps some historian will say of this Pentecostal generation: And as he passed over Penuel (facing God) the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh (Genesis 32:31).